Element 1: The Act or Acts of Human Trafficking, or What is Done
A person becomes a human trafficker if he or she does any of the following acts for the purpose of exploitation:
- Recruits another person for the purpose of exploitation.
- Transports or transfers another person.
Transporting involves moving a person to another place in order to exploit them. A trafficked person may travel normally — and legally, with a passport, if they’re crossing a border — by bus, car, air, train, or other transportation. In other cases, to prevent exposure, the trafficker may force them to travel illegally and/or in dangerous and uncomfortable ways, such as in the trunk of a car.
Transferring occurs when the trafficked person is transferred from one person to another.
- Harbours or receives another person for the purpose of exploitation. Harbouring or receiving occurs when a human trafficker hides or houses a trafficked person — and keeps them under control — in order to exploit them.
Women as Traffickers
Sometimes, the only way for women trapped in exploitative situations to survive is for them to move up the hierarchy and become traffickers themselves.
A recent report on human trafficking from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime indicates that women play a significant role as perpetrators of human trafficking—in fact, in Europe, women are convicted for human trafficking more often than for any other crime. The report also says that many female traffickers were once trafficked themselves for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
My Story: I travelled to Canada where I was greeted by my employer and moved to a small town. My passport and identity documents were taken from me immediately and I was told that I would work as a caretaker in the family home five days a week and also work in the family business two days a week. I was forced to work very long hours without pay and was obliged to sleep on the floor in the family home.
The Trafficking in Persons Protocol specifies that it is an act of trafficking to give or receive a payment or benefits "to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person." Anyone who buys a trafficked person from a trafficker in order to exploit them is also a trafficker.
Traffickers are often part of a group — it’s known that organized crime networks around the world are involved in human trafficking, including here in Canada.
The RCMP’s 2010 report, Project Seclusion: Human Trafficking in Canada, states that "Organized crime networks with eastern links have been involved in organized entry of women from former Soviet States into Canada for employment in escort services in the Greater Toronto Area and possibly in massage and escort services in the Montreal area."
However, a trafficker can also operate as a professional working with a small, semi-organized group, or as an amateur working alone. A trafficker may be a stranger, a friend of the family, a parent, an uncle, a sister, a boyfriend, a labour contractor, a diplomat, a career criminal, or a business executive.
The UN 2012 Global Report on Human Trafficking states the following about traffickers:
"Information from more than 50 countries shows that of persons prosecuted for and/or convicted of trafficking in persons in the period 2007-2010, roughly two thirds are men."
No One Can Consent to Being Exploited
Under the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, no one can consent to being exploited if one or more of the means included in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol has been used. For example, if you remember the case study at the beginning of this module, Marianna agreed to move to Vancouver. Her traffickers could easily say that she wasn’t trafficked, because she consented to come to Canada. But Marianna believed she was moving here for a legitimate job; instead, she was deceived and coerced— threatened with violence—into working in a illegal drug lab against her will. Such conduct renders her consent meaningless.
"Although the majority of trafficking offenders are men, the participation of women is higher for this crime than for most other crimes."
"Statistical analyses show that the involvement of women in trafficking is more frequent in the trafficking of girls... [W]omen involved in human trafficking are normally found in low-ranking positions of the trafficking networks and carry out duties that are more exposed to the risk of detection and prosecution than those of male traffickers."
The following video is a public service announcement from UN.GIFT (The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking).
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